Friday, August 29, 2008

"American Railroad History in a Nutshell"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CPRR Freight Tariff, 1873 [Shipping cost to ship cargo or goods by rail]


Thought you might be interested in the CP freight tariff published in the [Hannahs & Co.] 1873 Salt Lake City Directory – pgs 9-14.

Lots of other interesting advertisements, including for Kimball Manufacturing and other San Francisco companies.


Boston to Los Angeles by Rail in 1886?

From: "Benjamin Marcus"

... I am writing a book about Malibu history and at this point I am detailing the life and movements of Frederick Hastings Rindge, who inherited $3 million in 1883 and came west, with his wife, to settle in Santa Monica.

I am pretty sure he took the train, and pretty sure he caught the Central Pacific from Omaha to Sacramento, where he caught the Southern Pacific to Los Angeles.

What I wonder is, what railway lines would he have taken from Boston to Omaha?

I have a Central Pacific map which shows a couple of railway lines going into Omaha from Chicago.

I wonder which line he would have been most likely to take from Chicago to Omaha, and also which line from Boston?

He was very wealthy, if that could have effected his decision.

For all I know he had his own private car, because $3 million in 1883 was the equivalent of $60 million now. ...

—Ben Marcus

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Western Pacific Railroad Construction

See the additional discussion of WPRR construction during the period of 1869-1872.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Last Tie

From: "Alfredo Gillespie"
Subject: The Last Tie

I have doing some extensive research for a friend on the designer and maker of a 1879 c. billiard table Jacob Strahle (Straalee) . Strahle an immigrant from Germany lived in San Francisco in the mid 1800s though the early 1900s. The billiard table is made of Laurel wood (Native tree to Marin County-just north of San Francisco).

During my recent research at the Mechanics Institute library it was verified that Strahle was commissioned by Evans to make the railroad tie for the driving of the golden spike. The commemorative railroad tie was made by Jacob Strahle, also made of Laurel wood that was hand honed by Strahle. Strahle was known for his fine furniture making skills and had many items displayed at the annual San Francisco Mechanic Institute's trade shows during the late 1800s. The tie was then removed from the main track line and stored in Strahles' furniture warehouse in San Francisco but during the great San Francisco earthquake it was destroyed by fire. I have viewed a very poor quality picture that purports to be that of a National Guard Unit in San Francisco that identifies one of the Guard's men as Strahle. Compared to your picture the man bears a strong resemblance to that of Jacob Strahle.

—Al Gillespie

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sound of CPRR steam whistles

From: "Malcolm Easton"

Is there any information about the type of steam whistle used on CPRR trains around 1885? I am trying to find a description of the sound, e.g., a particular note or chord. I see in Wikipedia a detailed discussion of this with references to other railroad lines but none to CPRR. ...

—Malcolm Easton

Art in the Age of Steam at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

From: "Randy Attwood"

... The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ... on September 13, 2008 .. will open an exhibition that I think would be of interest ... "Art in the Age of Steam" will show how railroads affected the work of artists and helped shape the modern world. More than 100 paintings, prints and photographs from 64 museums and private collections will be on view and we think the exhibition will be of interest not only to art lovers, but railroad fans as well. ... In conjunction with the exhibition, a 288-page book has been produced titled: The Railway: Art in the Age of Steam ...

Randy Attwood
Media Relations Officer
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Sisson, Wallace & Company

From: "Richard Zack"

Canal construction in the late 1870's in Tulare County was done by the Sisson, Wallace Company. What were the first or Christian names of "Sisson" and "Wallace"? It appears that Sisson, Wallace & Company outright owned some of the land that was ultimately sold to one of the irrigation districts. In other words, to keep their railroad crews busy between railroad contracts, Sisson, Wallace & Co. actually bought abandoned canals, upgraded them and then sold them back to the irrigation companies. I need the construction company founders' names to match up with landowners to pursue that idea further.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Common standards for SP Depots

From: "Barbara Toppings"

Where can I find information about the "common standards" for SP Depots? I've roamed through the entire Q & A section without seeing a single word on this. I'm looking for who designed the plans, and which plans were used for each station, and how they were assembled on site. A local newspaper (Ventura, CA) in 1887 when the train tracks arrived in town says they were prefabricated in the Sacramento shops, but there isn't a hint in the CPRR page on that topic.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Route of the California Central Railroad

From: "Dennis Petrotta"

Does anyone have any information about the specific routing of the California Central Railroad from Folsom to today's Roseville? Does a topo map overlay exist?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saving the B&MLRR Brooks Railroad Station

"Old Rail Station Gets Revamped" by Mike Webster, ©, 8/9/2008. (News Article)

"The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad is a 140 year-old piece of Maine's history. But when the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Preservation Society started selling the railroad and all its equipment -- many feared it would be the end of the line. But ... Joe Feero ... and nine other people formed the Brooks Preservation Society. They started raising money to buy the Brooks Railroad Station and other railroad equipment. Last month someone ... give us the money to purchase the station and the locomotive ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts and Bruce C. Cooper.]

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Railroad art for sale at Snow Goose Gallery

From: "Blair Purcell"

Good railroad images:

railroad painting

Coming of the Iron Horse, [by western artist Frank McCarthy]. [Enlarge]

Of all the innovations of the nineteenth century, none changed the landscape of the American West more than the steam locomotive. A monument to speed, industry and westward expansion, the locomotive charged across the landscape, changing the face of frontier life forever, but it did not happen overnight. Past and present collided in the prairies and plains, as workers laying tracks for the trains met with resistance from local wildlife. Even the mighty locomotive engine itself, with all its power and might, occasionally ran into the unstoppable force of nature.

"Huge migrating herds of buffalo could stall a train for hours," said Frank McCarthy. "For sport, travelers sometimes took potshots at them from the cars while they waitied for the processsion to pass." It would not be long before progress and profesional hide hunters rendered the threat of buffalo on train tracks nearly extinct.

Print released 1989.
Canvas released 2008.

railroad painting

Powder Monkeys – Cape Horn 1865, [by Mian Situ] [Enlarge]

The California Gold Rush and the opening of the West drove economic interest and demand for a Transcontinental Railroad. In 1863, the Union Pacific began laying track from Omaha to the west while the Central Pacific Railroad Company headed east from Sacramento, California.The two rails would eventually connect on an historic day in May, 1869 in Promontory, Utah.The Central Pacific, plagued by labor and financial problems, laid down only 50 miles of track in the first two years.To compound their problems, the construction path now faced treacherous terrain that rose 7,000 feet into the high Sierras. In his painting, The Powder Monkeys, artist Mian Situ honors the Chinese laborers who, in 1865, were hired for $28 per month to do the very dangerous work of blasting tunnels and laying tracks. ...

Canvas released 2006.

... Here's another ... that brings back one of those glorious days in American history recognized by both the participants and by posterity:

railroad painting

Ten Miles in One Day, [by Mian Situ] [Enlarge]

In 1862 the Pacific Railway Act provided funding for a transcontinental railway that would connect burgeoning California with the rest of the country. The Union Pacific Railroad was given the contract to build west from Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific Railroad would build east from Sacramento, California. In 1869 the two railroads met at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory.

Victory Camp (later named Rozel Point), located west of Promontory, was so called because Charles Crocker of the Central Pacific won a $10,000 wager from the Union Pacific that his crews could lay more miles of track than the Union Pacific. The Central Pacific hired an additional crew of Chinese laborers. Working alongside the Irish track layers, they built over ten miles of track in twelve hours, a feat that has never been equaled. Their efforts completed the Central Pacific segment of the Transcontinental Railroad. On May 10, 1869, the two tracks met at Promontory Summit in the famous Golden Spike ceremony. Local officials turned out to drive the ceremonial Golden Spike with the ceremonial silver sledgehammer, which made official the joining of the East Coast and the West. After the ceremony had ended, the Golden Spike and laurel railroad tie were removed, and Chinese laborers quietly finished the track with a wooden tie and steel spike.

Mian Situ, recipient of the numerous awards from the Autry Museum of the American West, celebrates this milestone in his new painting. At the Museum’s 2007 Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, Ten Miles in One Day sold for $251,200 at silent-bid auction.

Canvas released 2007.

railroad painting

I'll Hold You in My Dreams, [by Americana artist William Phillips] [Enlarge]

The Noon Coast Daylight (train 97 from Los Angeles to San Francisco - see number board to left of stack) is pulling into Santa Barbara station. The time is 2:32 pm on a warm winter day in 1941, less than a month after Pearl Harbor.

This train was discontinued by the Southern Pacific Railroad in January of '42 - prior to the resumption of daylight savings. Standard time had prevailed year round since the end of WW1. Consequently, the sun angle spells out the same story as the train is actually headed a little south of west here in Santa Barbara.

Locomotive 4443, one of the famous GS-4 class, is still moving slowly as it eases to a stop with the observation car still blocking State Street. The locomotive and head end will be further along the platform to the benefit of passengers boarding from near where they are now standing.

The car inspector (man in overalls at the edge of the platform) is ready to start walking the length of the train, tapping the wheels of each car with his hammer - looking for broken flanges or other defects. Scheduled departure for San Franciscois 2:35 pm - a lot to do in three minutes. But railroad workers are a proud lot - and this train is one of the Daylights. It always gets special attention. And keeping State Street blocked any longer than neccesary is frowned on by SP management.

Next stop? San Luis Obispo, 119 miles up the line. 2 hours and 18 minutes scheduled running time. Now, that's long enough for dinner in the diner - if you want to spend a minimum of ninety cents or really splurge with the fresh mountain trout at $1.50.

Just above the station (left side) there are two P-38 fighter aircraft on their first test flight, only a few days after rolling off the assembly line at the Lockheed plant in Burbank. Full production of operational aircraft has continued round the clock since October of the previous year. The 4-8-4 is not much older, having been delivered from Lima Locomotive Works in May of '41.

Businessmen wait to board as does Rosie the Riveter (far left). Amongst a sprinkling of other military personnel, the young Army Air Force Lieutenant stands out as he bids his fiancee goodbye. Look closely, you can see a small diamond on her ring finger. She will be there to welcome him home in the summer of '45.

I thought these would be enjoyed. ... As a railfan and a gallery owner, I am always pleased when quality railroad images are offered by the publishers we represent.


—Blair Purcell

Courtesy Blair Purcell, Copyright © 2008

Thomas Hill's painting, "The Last Spike"

From: "Carol Barker"

Am doing research about Mr. Hill's painting, The Last Spike. When did the CPRR receive it? It was in the State Capital from 1936 to ? Do you have information regarding its whereabouts after artist Hill died in 1908? It was in storage in San Francisco at his death......then???

—Carol Barker, Docent, Haggin Museum, Stockton

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fake railroad belt buckle


I have a belt buckle witch I assume is a fake it is a Central & Union Pacific Rail Road Co. On the back it has marked property of Union Pacific Railroad Co. (E Gaylord Mass).

After reading your site I think I am right in thinking that it is just a fake would you be able to confirm this for me?

—Iain Thomas Grant Batey (M.B.E.)

Fake photo with Cigar guy Rupesh Shingadia added

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Question concerning Rozel, UT


I am currently researching a book project and need to find out how the transcontinental railroad camp "Victory Camp" became "Rozel" and the significance of the name "Rozel." The switch in names took place some time after 1869. Rozel was first used for the name of the train stop, then spread to be used for many other geographical locations in the area. ...

—Hikmet Sidney Loe

author of forthcoming publication (summer 2009):
Range of Convergence: The Histories of Spiral Jetty and Rozel Point
Utah State University Press

Monday, August 04, 2008

Valuation maps


Is there a public records source for Southern Pacific valuation maps? Perhaps those filed with the ICC?

I'm a land surveyor doing historical research and UP is reluctant to part with their copies of these maps unless they have a pending transaction.

Thank you in advance for you assistance.

BTW, in 1976-1977 I was a "draftsman grade 3" for SP @ the 10th floor 1 Market St., San Francisco. Being low man on the pole I was in charge of filing and indexing these maps along with making sure that the Engineering division's cars were washed and gassed, and I was official driver to Mr. Vaughn, SP's chief engineer at that time. Got promoted in 1977 and drafted updates to many val maps along with being a land title abstractor. Should of kept the job, I would have been retired by now.

Friday, August 01, 2008

CPRR Discussion Group

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